We got an interesting comment from Remeny the other day regarding the ‘Naclers (including us) who have criticized President Beck’s talk:
The church has raised the bar for missionaries to serve. Since then the number of missionaries have decreased, but the quality of missionary has increased. So it should be with current members of the church. We should raise our own bars and live better than we have been. The church might lose a few members, but the quality of member will be better.
This touches on some questions the Bloggernacle is constantly wrestling with: How much dissent is helpful and constructive? Should a line be drawn? If so, where and how?
I think there are as many opinions on this as there are Bloggernaclers. On the one hand, the liberals and NOMs say they should be welcomed at church because if the church won’t grant a little bit of lee-way regarding belief and practice, more people will just leave the church entirely (perhaps becoming ** shudder ** atheists). Remeny replies “good riddance” (I’m paraphrasing). My alternate response to the NOMs would be that they should give the Sunstone-types more credit — my experience with them shows they’re pretty tenacious and not so easily discouraged. And besides, why is atheism the worst possible outcome? Everybody knows atheists are cute and cuddly and fun at parties. But I digress.
It seems clear that many members are influenced by all of the liberal ideas floating around the Internet. Apparently before encountering the Bloggernacle Seth R. was a Bible literalist, and now he’s worried about becoming “one of those snivelly goatee-sporting, postmodernist Mormons wearing a beret, and weeping into my cappuccino about correlation.” 😉 Could it happen to you???
My own trajectory is even more embarrassing. Before encountering cultural-Mormon-blog-and-forum-space a few years ago, Mormonism was the last thing that would ever cross my mind. I had no idea who the current president of the church was, and if you’d asked me to name a General Authority, I couldn’t have named a single one, not even Hinkley. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m writing articles commenting on talks at General Conference. People have joked that the next step is that I’ll be rebaptized. (Of course I was never ex’ed to begin with, but if I showed an interest in coming back to church, they might remedy that.) Then I could join all of the cool postmodernist Mormons for cappuccino! (I already have a beret!)
Anyway, to get to the point (and/or discussion topic), I don’t think the LDS church could get rid of the so-called intellectuals even if it wants to. Openly rebuking them from the pulpit discourages some but apparently encourages others. Plus it’s not clear that it’s in the church’s interest to get rid of them entirely: maybe they’re helping some to stay in the church despite doubts, maybe they just keep the discussion more lively.